Veteran’s Day, Communication & Suicide

I wrote an article for Veteran’s Day for Military Press.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

Communicate with your Veteran before it’s too late!

Have you ever thought about what it’s like in combat? For a second let’s imagine what it might have been like for your spouse in the sandbox, constantly in a heightened state of fear for his life. As things are just getting back to normal around here, Veteran’s Day next week may bring up some of those same mixed feelings.

Typical Duck Dynasty loving Americans don’t realize what we go through, let alone what our spouses choose to go through. I think many fail to realize that everyone who’s gone to combat comes home with some sort of extra baggage. Mentally, emotionally and sometimes physically — if they even come home at all. It’s not all civilians’ faults though because it’s either not a part of their lives or it’s just out of sight and out of mind. I understand we’re a very small percentage of Americans but the more Americans know, care and understand, the less all of our Veterans and service members will feel isolated and misunderstood.

What always gets me is the statistic that 22 Veterans a day commit suicide. That adds up to more deaths from suicide than were killed in action in the current war. That’s a suicide every 65 minutes. Even more astonishing, according to CNN, is that the numbers are underreported due to Veterans not registering with the VA and states not turning in accurate numbers because of lack of information. The numbers are mainly for older Veterans. Apparently 30% of the OIF & OEF service members have considered taking their own lives and 45% said they know a service member who has attempted suicide.

Steel Magnolias, I encourage you all to teach your children about Veterans Day and educate them on how things used to be and why we should cherish and respect not only our elders but especially the Veterans. Volunteer and speak up so that we do not let the cycle of unknowing civilians continue. Always try to keep positive communication going with your spouse not only for your marriage and yourself but also the well-being of your family. So many of our marriages end up in the drain because of things that are out of our control but there are many wives who don’t get to make this point or celebrate holidays with their husbands anymore and only get to visit them at national cemeteries.

Don’t let them stuff down their feelings and suck it up living in horrid silence alone. Please don’t wait until it’s too late to try and communicate. If you need a push start don’t be afraid to contact FOCUS, a local therapist, find a couples retreat or even simply go run errands together, hold hands and keep that constant feeling of support and openness there.

Don’t forget yourself in all of this. Have a glass of wine with a fellow spouse occasionally. As Steel Magnolias we have the strength to be the spouse, cheerleader, researcher, mother and health advocate these men need but the only way to prevent all of this is to simply talk.

Veteran’s Day is more than a day off

Throughout these few days every year of remembrance, honor and celebration I personally wanted to take the time to say how humbled I am to have known, know, have met and work with so many brave, courageous and heroic current and prior service members. There are so many countless others out there who are just as outstanding as these service members who’ve left such a positive impression in our lives.
Wherever they are now I want to say thank you for all you have done, sacrificed and will continue to sacrifice for our country. Anthony & I go to Balboa Naval Hospital quite a bit for his appointments and see the results of slight and life altering injuries to these selfless Americans and almost everyone we see has a smile on their face. All politics, statistics and bull crap aside, these men and women signed up, trained, went to all of the wars and more recently Afghanistan and Iraq for the greater cause and the bigger picture; for you, me, our kids and our kids’ kids.
The many people and sometimes perfect strangers who help people cope with the initial shock of the injury, transport the injured to the states, and are available throughout the recovery and rehab; are all angels on earth. Giving back to those in need is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others. I will personally never forget any of our earthly angels and will teach my girls to give back to others and go my entire life donating to and volunteering for those organizations out there to help not only the service member but their families during a crisis. Whether it is sending care packages, doing a Hike for Heroes, visiting the injured in the hospitals, going to a memorial, helping with the Wounded Warrior project or otherwise the ideas are endless but help is needed in ways too great to put into words.
So enjoy the parades, football games and days off during this time. Yet please educate the not knowing, teens and kids why they get a day off of school and those who’ve come before them to make it safer for them to live their lives. Age appropriate of course explain why the towns, streets, houses, and cemeteries are proudly waving & displaying American flags, red, white and blue wreaths.  Explain why veterans are in their Sunday best for ceremonies and parades. These events are for our Veterans and their families. Have a great weekend and God Bless the USA!!